Dr. Raghuveer Chaudhari

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the 51st Jnanpith Award to Dr. Raghuveer Chaudhary, at Parliament House, in New Delhi on July 11, 2016.

The President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presenting the 51st Jnanpith Award to Dr. Raghuveer Chaudhary, at Parliament House, in New Delhi on July 11, 2016.

Dr. Raghuveer Chaudhari represents the voice of a true Indian writer, a writer with social conscience, faith in mankind and utmost love for nature. Honoring him with the Sahitya Academy Fellowship (Lifetime honor for an Indian writer) and Pandit Rahul Sankrutyayan Award (for contributions in Research in Hindi) recognizes his noteworthy contributions in Gujarati and Hindi languages. Bharatiya Jnanpith took pride in conferring the 51st Jnanpith Award for the year 2015 to Dr. Raghuveer Chaudhari for his immense contributions towards Indian literature. The Jnanpith noted in the citation that wide spectrums of rare glimpses of Gujarati and Indian folk culture have blossomed in the writings of Dr. Raghuveer Chaudhari, an eminent Gujarati author, a critic and a poet. Recognized and honored as one of the most prolific writers on the contemporary Gujarati literary scene, Dr. Raghuveer Chaudhari has been equally appreciated by his readers and critics.

Life & Journey:

Born on December 5, 1938 in a farmer’s family of a true devotee father – Dalsinh ‘Bhagat’ दलिसंह ‘भगत’ and a hard-working mother Jeeti ba, Raghuveer got his schooling completed at Mansa near his native village Bapupura (बापुपुरा ) in North Gujarat. Nurtured by nature and pampered by parents, Raghuveer’s childhood imprinted him with all that’s good, beautiful and positive in life. Values of equality, compassion and brotherhood along with the greatness of Indian cultural heritage were instilled in him through the readings of the Geeta, Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, Govardhanram Tripathi, Umashankar Joshi, Manubhai Pancholi’s ‘Darshak’ et al, right from school days. He won prizes at various competitions of debating and writing in Hindi and Sanskrit languages. Moreover, he used to work on different chores like helping parents in farm work, herding and tending cattle, and Khadi spinning, the Gandhi way, in his childhood. Raghuveer mastered Gujarati, Hindi and Sanskrit languages under the guidance of his teachers Dr. Bholabhai Patel, Prof. G. N. Dickey and Dr. Ramdarash Mishra to name a few. Great writers like Kalidasa, T.S.Eliot, Tagore, Premchand and Renu have remained his favorites besides being influenced deeply by Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography. Raghuveer got the honor of being ranked the first as well securing distinction in B. A. in Hindi from Gujarat University in 1960. and M. A. in Hindi language and literature in 1962. Raghuveer was awarded Ph.D. in 1979 for his research on “Comparative Study of Hindi and Gujarati Verbal Roots” from Gujarat University. He joined the Dept. of Languages of Gujarat University in 1977 and retired in 1998 as a professor and head of the department of Hindi. An eminent linguist Dr. Harivallabh Bhayani inspired and influenced Raghuveer to pursue the comparative research in linguistics.

Raghuveer, a scholory & legendary writer:

Getting awarded or rewarded for the extraordinary literary expression began at a very young age for Raghuveer. His second novel “Amruta” (1965), which is considered  one of the best ten novels in Gujarati, received the first prize from the state Government. Ranjeetram Gold Medal and UmaSnehrashmi prize were followed by Sahitya Academy’s national award for his much acclaimed “Uparvaas Kathatrai” (उपरवास कथातयी) in 1977. Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan honoured Raghuveer Chaudhari with “Sauhaard Sanmaan” in 1990 for his contribution in Hindi language. He received several awards – Abhivaadan Trust Award, Darshak Award (1995), K.M.Munshi Gold Medal, Nandshankar Mehta Award (for the novel ‘Kacha Suterne Taantne’ (‘काचा सूतरनेतांतणे’), Govardhanram Tripathi Award (for the novel ‘Somteerth’), Gujarat Sahitya Academy award, the Gaurav Puraskaar in 2002 followed by the same honor from Hindi Sahitya Academy in 2011. Raghuveer was invited by Gujarat Sahitya Academy of Britain (1982), Gujarati Literary Academy of North America (1991, 2000 and 2002) and Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, U.S.A. (2003) to deliver lectures on Gujarati and Indian literature. School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London invited him as a visiting research fellow in 1992. Raghuveer has been actively associated with various literary, academic and cultural organizations. His tireless efforts are the reason that Gujarati Sahitya Parishad has been able to get its own building near the river front in Ahmedabad. Raghuveer is the past president and a trustee of Gujarati Sahitya Parishad. He was also appointed a jury member of the 25th Indian Film Festival. In 1998, Raghuveer was honored with his appointment as a member of the executive committee of Sahitya Academy, Delhi. He was nominated as a member of the Press Council of India during 2002-04.

Raghuveer, a poet:

Raghuveer is a man of letters but was also attracted and inspired by ‘Great Poetry’ rather than ‘True Poetry’. Inspired by his father’s devotional songs and traditional meters such as Harigeet, Jhulana etc., Raghuveer started writing poems during his school days. Kumar Medal for poetry was given to him in 1965. His first collection of poems ‘Tamasaa’ ‘तमसा’ , which got awarded by the state government in 1967, depicts the central theme of his poetry very well – the longing for his village. The first poem in ‘Tamasaa’ starts with – ” Why no one stopped me, when I left myself behind?” Even though the poet has to live in the city, he runs back to his farms and his village to breathe, to recharge himself. ” When I get tired standing on the footpath, I give rest to myself by working in the farm” is the line of his poem often quoted while introducing Raghuveer Chaudhari. His collections of poems include ‘Vaheta Vruksh Pavan maa ‘ ( व हे तां वृक प व न मां) , ‘ Diwaalithi Devdiwaali’ (ल दवािीथी देलवदवािी), ‘Footpath ane Shedho’ ( फु टपाथ अने शेढो), ‘Paadarna Pankhi’ (पादरनां पंखी) ‘Dharaadhaam’ (धराधाम) and his much awaited and ambitious long poem ‘Bachaavnaamu’ (बचावनामुं). This last poem is considered to be a breakthrough in
the contemporary Gujarati poetry as this 95 page long poem is written in traditional meters and as the title suggests, it’s in defense of Truth and Indian cultural values in the fast-paced commercialized world. In the preface of “Bachaavnaamu “, the poet emphatically clarifies the need to defend the balance and dialogue between not just the Man and the Nature but the whole universe as a responsibility of all those who write. The poem envisages the poetic vision of Raghuveer which revolves around ” To love is to be – it is the only way for existence” and ends with a question – ‘ Will there be a light of Faith? ‘. The question is raised with a ray of hope in midst of today’s world, which is full of violence, declining human values, corruption and materialism. Raghuveer began writing with poetry and even though it has remained his first love, it’s the form of novel that has given him much accreditation as a great Gujarati literary figure. Not to ignore, it’s the poetic element in his literary expressions which gives him the unmatched power of visualization through words.

Raghuveer – a philosopher, a stage director and a correspondent:

Raghuveer is a writer with deep sensitivity who believes in the co-existence of spirituality and science, reality and emotions, thinking and sentiments. He firmly believes that if a writer has nothing to contribute, he/she shouldn’t write. At the same time a writer shouldn’t be too loquacious. One of the most remarkable aspects of Raghuveer’s style of writing is his unique sense of humor interwoven with subtle satire and wit. Raghuveer is a seeker of Truth and Beauty in everything and everywhere. As a human being and as a creative person, Raghuveer is truthful to his inner truth and believes that one has to strive to find the Truth throughout the life. Raghuveer tries to erase the distance between the ‘Word’ and the ‘Life’. That explains why his novels are rewritten at one stage or the other. His faith in the functional aspect of human life has progressively strengthened from ‘novel of ideas’ to that of based upon real world.. This progression is visible from ‘Amruta’ (1965) and ‘Venu Vatsala’ (वेणु वतिा)(1973) to ‘Uparvaas'(1975) and ‘Laagni'(िागणी) (1976) to ‘Samjyaa Vinaa Chhuta Padavun’ (समजा ल वना छुटां पडवुं) (2003) and ‘Ek Dag Aagal Be Dag Paachhal ‘ ( ए क ड ग आगि ब  े ड ग पाछि ) ( 2 0 0 9 ). ‘Somteerth’ (सोमतीथर) (1996) and ‘Rudramahalaya’ (रद महािय) (1978) are considered the classic examples of historical novels in Gujarati, esp. ‘Somteerth’, which deals with the issues of modern India in context to the past. His two new novels, ‘Vijay Baahubali’ and ‘Lokleela’ are to be published in 2016. Raghuveer’s emphasis on the need for Experience, Imagination and Perception in fiction writing can easily be described as the three strongest elements that make his work exemplary. Raghuveer’s short stories portray the uncertainty and complexity of human life and relations. Some of the best examples are ‘Potkun’ (पोटकुं ), ‘Purna Satya’ (पूणर सत ), ‘Chita’ (ल चता), ‘Ud Gaye Fulwa Rah Gayi Baas'(उड गये फू िवा रह गइ बास) , and ‘Pakshaghat’ (पकाघात). His collections of short stories include ‘ Aakasmik Sparsh’ (आलकसक सशर), ‘Gersamaj’ (गेरसमज), ‘Virhini Ganika'(ल वररहनी लगणका), ‘Mandirni Pachhite'(लमनरनी लपछते), ‘Saanjno Chhayo'(सांजनो छायो), ‘Doorthi Saathe’ (दूरथी साथे) etc. 7 Among his plays, ‘Sikandar Saani’ (ल सकं दर सानी),’Najeek’ (नजीक), ‘Ashokvan’ (अशोकवन) ‘Jhulta Minara’ (झुिता ल मनारा), ‘Tri jo Purush’ ( ल तजो पुरष) and a collection of one-act plays were much appreciated performances on the stage by well-known artists. The one-act play, ‘Dim Light’ (ल डम िाईट) remains the favorite with the audience after its innumerable performances. As a lecturer at H.K. Arts college in Ahmedabad, Raghuveer regularly held theatre workshops and trained many students in dramatics and directed many plays. ‘Veenaaveli’ was one of the most successful plays that he directed which is still being remembered after some 35 years as the annual drama competition is being held under that name. Raghuveer has a flair for penning the unseen aspects of known personalities. His character sketches have been praised for his unique style of writing. ‘Saharaani Bhavyataa’ (सहरानी भवता), ‘Tilak Kare Raghuveer 1-2’ (ल तिक करे रघुवीर १-२ ) and ‘Maanasthi Lokmaanas’ (मानसथी िोकमानस) have been praised as the vivid characterizations of many literary, social and spiritual figures of Gujarat. Raghuveer Chaudhari has written/compiled over 100 books in Gujarati and Hindi. Raghuveer was instrumental in setting up of a separate department for the study of Journalism at Gujarat University in 1990s. As a popular columnist, he has contributed to the numerous dailies and weeklies, such as ‘Sandesh’, ‘Janmabhoomi’ and ‘Divya Bhaskar’.

Raghuveer, a social worker:

Being a true Gandhian at heart from his adolescent days, Raghuveer was instrumental in achieving hundred percent literacy rate in his village by providing adult-education, setting up a small library and a theatre for his school. During vacations, he used to join Vinobaji’s “Bhudaan Movement” and be a part of various social activities. All these led him to commit himself strongly to the social issues and not to remain a mere spectator of his surroundings. Raghuveer was active during “Navnirmaan Aandolan” in Gujarat and voiced strongly against the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975. He was also greatly influenced by Jayprakash Narayan. Raghuveer’s public speeches and creative works have always reflected his fearless and bold opinions on injustice and suppression of any kind in the society.
After retirement, Raghuveer enjoys being ‘a weekend farmer’. He likes to spend most of his relaxing time on the two farms at his village. Raghuveer’s concern for education, water scarcity and overall development of the underprivileged areas is the reason for his active participation as a Trustee of the organizations like ‘Lokbharti Gramvidyapeeth’ िोकभारती गालमवधापीठ (Sanosaraa, Bhavnagar), ‘Grambharti’ गामभारती (Gandhinagar) and Motibhai Foundation for Water Recharging. He is a Chairman and Trustee ,of ‘Aadya Kavi Narsinh Mehta Sahitya Nidhi’. Raghuveer Chaudhari is married to Paru (पार) and a proud father of four children – Sanjay, Drashti, Kirti and Surta.

Written/compiled by: Dr. Drashti Patel